The monumental Church of San Zaccaria is located in Castello, in the namesake campo, approximately halfway between the Saint Mark’s Basilica and Arsenale. From a religious point of view, the major attraction refers to the mortal remains of San Zaccaria, father of Saint John the Baptist, brought to Venice in the 9th century, by order of Leo V, the Byzantine Emperor at the moment. The construction works at the present church lasted 6 decades, being initiated in 1444 and completed in 1504. The church was consecrated no sooner than 1543. Given both the lengthy duration of the works and the fact two chief architects were commissioned, successively, to design the edifice, the church (in particular, its facade) is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance elements. Thus, the lower side of the facade (as well as most of the interior of the church, with its tall massive windows, unique in Venice) is replete with Gothic details, owed to the original architect, Antonio Gambello, whereas the upper section opens with the upbeat Renaissance elements (colonnades, a curved gable and side quadrants) dating back to the time when the second architect, Mauro Codussi, took over the project (between 1483 and 1504).

What is worth mentioning is the site of the current Church of San Zaccaria was formerly filled by another place of worship, a 9th century church built by order of Doge Giustiniano Participazio (the church, as well as the neighboring Benedictine monastery have always maintained a close relationship with the Venetian doges; the history of this relation was pegged out by certain tragic episodes, such as the assassination of three doges and the burning of about 100 nuns in the fire which raised the 9th century church to the ground). The fire in 1105 determined the authorities to replace the former Romanesque church, enriching the monastic complex with a campanile (rebuilt, however, as it can be admired today, in the early 16th century, after the collapse of the spire and of the belfry).

The interior of the church shelters a wealth of artistic masterpieces. Highlights in this respect refer to an exceptional altarpiece which depicts Madonna and Four Saints by Giovanni Bellini (deemed one of the best late works of the artist), to Andrea del Castagno’s frescoes which adorn the Chapel of Saint Tarasius, an old chapel rebuilt by Antonio Gambello when he was commissioned to design the church in the 15th century. Two other notable chapels inside the Church of San Zaccaria are the so-called Cappella dell'Addolorata and the Chapel of Saint Athanasius, but speaking of artistic highlights, visitors might also find time to admire (on request and with the guidance of the sacristan) the pictorial and sculptural masterpieces signed by the likes of Tintoretto, Palma Il Vecchio, Angelo Trevisani, Antonio Balestra, Giuseppe Salviati, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, and Van Dyck even.

The crypt of the church contains the tombs of several doges of Venice. Another notable figure buried here is Alessandro Vittoria. His tomb can easily be distinguished, being marked by a bust realized by the artist himself (in all likelihood, a self-portrait).

Name:
Church of San Zaccaria (Chiesa di San Zaccaria)
Address:
4693, Campo San Zaccaria, Castello, 30122, Venice, Italy


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